Looking back…

Posted on Posted in Lessons From the Trail

I think I might be the only one really enjoying my “Lessons from the Trail” series.  Actually, I’ve heard from several of you who are enjoying tales from the trail mixed with some observations.  This week as I have been pondering this post I have been thinking about how great it is to have a written record of my time on the trail.  I often point to my years in college and my time on the trail as being the biggest times of transformation in my life.  It is really cool to be able to look back and reflect and think of all the time that has gone by.

Hanging out at the AT Headquarters in Harper’s Ferry.

It is interesting to look back and read about some of these events that I remember so vividly.  It is also interesting to note some sections of my journal that record events that I don’t really remember at all.  I’m going to share a few fun memories with you and then write about a few things that I do to try and preserve the memories I am making today.

This section of my journal from my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail was incredible!  By this point in the journal I was often summarizing a week of events at a time.  I was wrapping up the end of Virginia and hitting West Virginia and Maryland.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Stayed with the preacher and his family at the Church of Christ in Front Royal, VA for the weekend.  I’m still amazed at the number of people who let a bearded, stinking, long-haired stranger stay in their house.  The preacher, his family, and the church were all amazingly friendly to me.
  • The trail goes through Harper’s Ferry, WV and the headquarters for the Appalachian Trail are located in a building on the trail in the heart of the city.  Had my photo taken on the front porch of the building (included in this post) and signed the register for thru-hikers.  I was the 123rd thru-hiker to come through Harper’s Ferry that year.  About 3,000 people a year start the trail with the intention of thru-hiking.  Within the first week 25% will drop out.  By Harper’s Ferry roughly 85% have dropped off the trail.  There was a time early on the hike when I made a deal with myself to make it to Harper’s Ferry and then I would re-evaluate.  By that point I was having such a blast that I was ready to head on to Maine.
  • Spent a few days in Harper’s Ferry getting resupplied and resting at the unofficial half-way point of the trail.  Saw my first movie in months (Mission Impossible 2) and was blown away by the sound and the movement of the image.  The trail goes through the historic part of Harper’s Ferry and we were stopped by tourists for a few photos along the way.  It’s odd to think that I could be in some family’s vacation album somewhere.
  • It rained and rained during this section of the trail.  It took three days to get through Maryland and it rained all three days.  Putting on cold, wet, dirty clothes in the morning is not a pleasant feeling.  It would rain all day completely soaking me from head to toe.  In my journal I referred to the sloshing in my boots as “walking in mobile puddles.”
  • We found the official half-way marker of the Appalachian Trail (photo included).
  • I was part of a group of hikers that offended the patrons at the Tagg Run Restaurant.  The restaurant was just a mile from the trail crossing so we walked down to get some real food.  Our packs and other gear were piled at the entrance to the restaurant.  I noticed other patrons pointing at us and giving disapproving looks.  I overheard a group of older women talking about how much we stunk.  The waitress even told us we all really needed baths 🙂  Sorry to you good people in southern Pennsylvania, we just wanted some real food.

I’ve included a gallery of photos at the end of this post because so many of my favorite photos from the trail were made in this section of hiking.  Now on to some application…

How do you preserve memories of day to day life so you can go back and reflect on them?  For me there is a lot of power in a photo.  With the rise of iPhones it is so easy to snap a pic of a special time, place or event.  The images trigger such powerful memories for me.  If photos and videos are your memory trigger, make sure to back them up regularly.  And I’m not just talking about backing them up on your computer.  You need to get those photos out of your house and onto the cloud or somewhere safe.  Here’s a few of my tricks for backing up photos:

  • I have some incredible external hard drives from Lacie that I use to backup photos and videos.  They are not the cheapest drives out there, but I have some Lacie drives that are over 10 years old and still working strong.  I have had other drives from major manufacturers that poop out in just a year or two.  I have a couple of Rugged drives that I keep with me when on the road for making backup copies of photos and videos on the fly.  I have a pair of RAID drives from Lacie for doing full backups of my laptop at the office.  Do they cost a lot of money?  Yep!  But I can’t put a price tag on my memories or all of my work.
  • For photos and videos I also backup my favorites on Phanfare.  I have used the service since 2005 and have tens of thousands of photos and video archived on their servers.  There is a monthly cost associated with this service but they provide some of the most reliable, full resolution storage of photos out there.  Their servers are backed up on Amazon’s servers so I know that there are multiple layers of protection for my images.
  • Finally, I have email accounts for both of our girls.  I saw this on a Google commercial and thought it was a brilliant idea.  When the girls have a big life event I will send a photo or video to their email account with my thoughts on the event.  This one is free.

There is great joy and learning in looking back on the past.  I celebrate the memories of things I have done and cherish the moment I am living in right now.  I have a few other things I do to record memories but I’ll need to save those for another day.  How do you record your memories so you can look back on them?

Thanks for reading along today!  If you enjoyed today’s post would you consider sharing it using the buttons at the very end of the post?  And now for a small gallery of photos from the trail…

4 thoughts on “Looking back…

  1. I meet a thru-hiker at Washington Crossing State Park in NJ once while having a picnic with some friends. It seemed to be rather out of the way. The Appalachians don’t exactly run through Trenton!

    1. Had to look that one up Edward. That guy was a LONG way from the trail. That story might be a bit fishy 😉

        1. Haha! Next time I grow my hair and beard out I’ll find a park here in TX to stroll around in and say I’m a lost AT hiker and see if anyone will give me some food 🙂

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